Eggnog is a drink that currently exists within cruel parameters—compulsory on the days near Christmas and strictly contained to that fleeting window. In Colonial days, whole-egg drinks mixed with ale (called flips) were common cold-weather fortifiers and, at least by Dickens’s standards, breakfast. Despite the fact that by the mid-19th century the presence of the egg in everyday drinks had fallen dramatically, eggnog, according to Jerry Thomas’s records, came to reign as a somewhat mandatory seasonal delight. The rich mixture of egg, cream and sugar is a great masker of booze. While it feigns the role of liquid Christmas confection, eggnog has been responsible (some reading this may even attest) for many a holiday altercation, including the Eggnog Riot of 1826—a Westpoint holiday party that began with a whole lot of smuggled whiskey and a crowd of liquored-up cadets.
- 1 ounce dark rum
- 1 ounce Cognac
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 3/4 ounce half and half (or cream)
- 1 egg
Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice very well.
- Add ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.
- Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Eggnog is a fantastically versatile cocktail and works with a variety of base spirits. Any combination of dark rum, brandy or whiskey will do the trick. Add a splash of vanilla or a pinch of cinnamon for an added layer of complexity. Just be sure to shake the hell out of it before adding ice—a fully emulsified egg is what lifts this drink up to where it belongs.